El Camino Real International Heritage Center
El Camino Real International Heritage Center Review
Heading south on I–25 beyond Socorro and San Antonio, there are a couple of noteworthy stops. The first one, one of the region's most compelling attractions, is El Camino Real International Heritage Center. The beautiful, contemporary Heritage Center opened in 2005, after many years and much effort by New Mexicans to create a monument to El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, the Royal Road. The history of the period from 1598 through the late 1800s—when Spanish and Mexican colonists traveled the 1,500-mi route from Veracruz to Santa Fe most heavily—is the focus of the captivating exhibits here. But El Camino was also a vital trade route that linked ancient peoples from North America to Mesoamericans, and that earlier era is touched on as well. The kind of determination needed to cover this rugged ground is amazing to consider, particularly while gazing at the unbroken horizon and stark environment of the Jornada del Muerto ("Journey of the Dead Man"), the nickname for the region this part of the road passed through. Today, this international trade route lives on in the form of the near parallel I–25. There are picnic tables, but no food is available here.